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Groundswell Opposed To HSNO Amendment Bill

Groundswell opposed to HSNO Amendment Bill Groundswell spokesperson Tremane Barr has described the final form of the HSNO Amendment Bill as unacceptably dangerous to the environment.

“The central thrust of our submission on the HSNO Amendment Bill was that independent scientists are warning us that genetic engineering is based on a flawed idea which leads to unstable genetically modified organisms. This makes them unpredictable and dangerous in the environment.” said Tremane Barr. The scientific evidence has been accumulating for some time that the simplistic assumptions of genetic determinism that one gene leads to one trait is not true, for example, Dr. Commoner of the Centre for the Biology of Natural Systems of Queens College, City University of New York states, “An array of protein enzymes must repair the all-too-frequent mistakes in gene replication and in the transmission of the genetic code to proteins as well. Certain proteins, assembled in spliceosomes, can reshuffle the RNA transcripts, creating hundreds and even thousands of different proteins from a single gene.”[i]

He goes on to say that, “By any reasonable measure, these results contradict the central dogma’s [of genetic engineering’s] cardinal maxim: that a DNA gene exclusively governs the molecular processes that give rise to a particular inherited trait. The DNA gene clearly exerts an important influence on inheritance, but it is not unique in that respect and acts only in collaboration with a multitude of protein-based processes that prevent and repair incorrect sequences, transform the nascent protein into its folded, active form, and provide crucial added genetic information well beyond that originating in the gene itself. The net outcome is that no single DNA gene is the sole source of a given protein’s genetic information and therefore of the inherited trait.”[ii]

The logical conclusion that Dr. Commoner comes to is that, “The fact that one gene can give rise to multiple proteins also destroys the theoretical foundation of a multibillion-dollar industry, the genetic engineering of food crops. In genetic engineering it is assumed, without adequate experimental proof, that a bacterial gene for an insecticidal protein, for example, transferred to a corn plant, will produce precisely that protein and nothing else. Yet in that alien genetic environment, alternative splicing of the bacterial gene might give rise to multiple variants of the intended protein – or even to proteins bearing little structural relationship to the original one, with unpredictable effects on ecosystems and human health.” “Despite this clear scientific evidence as to the dangerous assumptions behind genetic engineering the Labour & Alliance government and the Greens are going to vote to put GMO field trials into our environment.” said Tremane Barr.

“Just last week ERMA held a conference on horizontal gene transfer (HGT) where there was a general consensus by those scientists present that GMOs will lead to pollution from HGT. A new form of pollution that is alive and self reproducing and where we have neither the technology or the experience to know what we are dealing with if the worst happens.”

Groundswell calls on the Greens not to vote for the HSNO Amendment Bill “I think it is sad that the Green MPs are going to vote to put GMOs into the environment with this Bill when they have been such staunch supporters of the GE free environment movement. The Greens need to realise that voting to put GMOs into the environment even for just field trials could undermine support for them. How can the Greens oppose GMOs in the environment when they are going to vote to put GMO field trials into the environment? Groundswell call on the Greens not to vote for the HSNO Amendment Bill.” said Tremane Barr

“To put it in context would the Greens would vote for a Bill that would allow only small nuclear reactors and small nuclear powered ships with small tactical nukes on them into NZ. The Nuclear Free movement would not have had any credibility if it had backed down and accepted such a compromise and Groundswell will not back down on our call for NZ to have a GE free environment even if the Alliance and the Greens no longer support this goal. Labour and Alliance Maori MPs also need to be put under pressure by their Maori constituents as this Bill has done nothing to address Maori concerns about GMOs in the environment. In reality the campaign against GMOs in our environment is just beginning and we intend to turn the heat up on all political parties, MPs and candidates standing for election this year.” said Tremane Barr.

Groundswell put in a submission on Environment Canterbury’s Natural Resource Regional Plan today calling on the Regional Council to make GMOs a prohibited activity in Canterbury.


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